I initially came across Savon Mama on Etsy, and the products immediately stood out to me. Created by Frankie Chui, Savon Mama is fresh and natural, yes, but also very innovative and cutting-edge, for instance combining 9 powerful peptides in Super Multiplex Peptide Serum and making use of probiotics in Manuka Probiotic Foaming Cleanser. I had the lucky opportunity to try the potent Super Multiplex Peptide Serum and Honey + Rosehip + Beet +Moroccan Red Clay Anti-Aging and Moisturizing Powder Facial Mask, and both products really impressed me.
Super Multiplex Peptide Serum, for instance, contains a much-higher-than-typical 22.5% concentration of a mix of the following nine proven peptides:
- Palmitoyl Dipeptide-5 Diaminobutyloyl Hydroxythreonine
- Palmitoyl Dipeptide-6 Diaminohydroxybutyrate
- The above two peptides form the anti-aging ingredient Syn-Tacks, which is known to firm skin by boosting the function of the Dermal-Epidermal Junction (DEJ).
- Activates collagen production and smooths wrinkles
- SNAP-8 – Acetyl Octapeptide-3
- Relaxes muscle contractions, similar to a topical Botox
- Uplevity – Acetyl Tetrapeptide-2
- Stimulates elastin production leading to firmer skin
- Syn-Hycan – Tetradecyl Aminobutyroylvalylaminobutyric Urea Trifluoroacetate
- Boosts hyaluronan content and increases expression of decorin and lumican
- Relistase – Acetylarginyltryptophyl Diphenylglycine
- Inhibits elastase activity
- Syn-Coll – Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5
- Boosts epidermal growth factor (EGF), stimulating collagen
- Copper Peptide
- Increases the uptake of copper by cells, which results in an increase in collagen and glycosaminoglycan
In designing the Super Multiplex formula, Ms. Chui not only selected an assortment of the most potent anti-aging peptides on the market, she also ensured that she included four different types of peptides in the mix: Signal Peptides (Tetrapeptide-21, Syn-Coll, Syn-Hycan, Uplevity, Syn-Tacks) that signal cells to perform a specific function, Neuropeptides (SNAP-8) that limit the effects of nerve cells that cause muscles to contract, Enzyme Inhibitor Peptides (Relistase) that prevent the activity of enzymes responsible for the breakdown of collagen and elastin, and Carrier Peptides (Copper Peptide) that help to carry vital nutrients and trace elements where they have most benefit. So not only does Super Multiplex Peptide Serum deliver a high concentration of 9 anti-aging peptides, but these peptides also deliver a smorgasbord of benefits.
If that is not impressive enough, Ms. Chui opted not to use water or fillers in the formula, instead opting for beneficial actives, hydrosols, and oils to maximize skin benefits. Amongst the additional powerhouse ingredients she includes are Acmella Oleracea, often touted as a natural alternative to Botox, which makes a wonderful complement to the SNAP-8 in the formula. She also includes Tamarind Seed Extract, which has been proven to outperform hyaluronic acid in its ability to hydrate and smooth skin and is also a natural enzyme inhibitor to boot. Wise to the importance of preservation yet always looking to deliver maximum benefit, Ms. Chui uses natural preservatives with skin-conditioning properties (e.g., lactobacillus ferment, aspen bark extract).
The final product is a potent anti-ager that delivers powerful, multifaceted benefits in a formula that is remarkably gentle. Super Multiplex Peptide Serum feels amazing on application, delivering potent hydration without triggering any blemishes even in my acne-prone skin. This is the most effective and beneficial peptide serum I have ever used, and I have tried many, including expensive formulations from brands that specialize in peptides. Super Multiplex Peptide Serum is hydrating and plumping, yet it caused my sensitive, acne-prone skin no problems. This is a winning formula, to say the least, and I highly recommend it.
The Anti-Aging and Moisturizing Powder Mask is similarly delightful. Its ingredients are luxe and well-balanced. In addition to rosehip (rich in vitamin C, fatty acids, and a natural source of vitamin A, rosehip is hydrating, nourishing, and rejuvenating), honey (soothing, moisturizing, and when used in a mask forms a watertight film on the face that permits skin to rehydrate itself), Moroccan red clay (an excellent purifying treatment, especially for sensitive skin), and beet root (rich in iron and carotenoids), the Anti-Aging and Moisturizing Powder Mask also includes a healthy dollop of oat kernel flour, which contains valuable beta glucan (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and a proven wrinkle reducer as well). This is a mask that is highly soothing and gently purifying in its effects, with the primary emphasis on calming and hydrating skin. The texture of the grain is extremely fine, which makes application and rinsing gentle and luxurious. As someone with sensitive, acne-prone skin, I have found the Anti-Aging and Moisturizing Powder Mask to be soothing and calming for both sensitivity and breakouts; the mask never caused my acne-prone skin to break out, but rather promoted healing while delivering gentle anti-aging and hydrating effects as well. My positive experience is a strong indication that this mask has benefits for all skin types, even the trickiest among them, like mine.
Interview with Savon Mama Maker Frankie Chui
What is the story behind how you became a formulator?
Frankie Chui (FC): I am a mother of four beautiful children living in California. There’s nothing more extraordinary than how I started making skin-care products. Before starting my company, I was always searching for natural and non-toxic skin care alternatives for my family. I had always been a hard-worker, never left things half done, and did not give up easily. Because of my strong-willed and ambitious character, I feel that every product I make can always be improved.
When I first started, I thought about the dilemma that many people faced. Most skincare products had many chemicals and weren’t very effective, and the ones that were would still most likely contain many harmful chemical ingredients. I was determined to solve this problem, and I utilized my knowledge of Asian holistic beauty and skincare to craft my own natural skincare products that I eventually nurtured into a brand. I hope that one day my brand can achieve the level of success that mainstream brands have achieved.
My products bring the best of both worlds. They are natural, non-toxic, efficient, and effective. I always aim to create them such that they can be used by people of different ethnicities and skin types.
There are many natural skin care products on the market with simple formulas that can easily be replicated and improved. There is simply nothing special about a product with generic ingredients and formulas. Many customers nowadays are asking and looking for more than just the same.
Now more than ever, people are seeking truly effective products, regardless of the price. These health-conscious people are willing to spend over $100 on a name-brand face cream because it is the best available to them. Often, these face creams are over-priced, and their power comes solely from the name on the packaging. Not only do they charge customers absurd amounts for something generic, but they also contain toxic, unnatural chemicals. Some customers are finally fed up with this ordeal and are demanding just what my company makes — non-toxic and highly effective products.
I have to admit that I was among those who were blinded by pretty packaging, labels, and brands. I often also had the misconception of natural products somehow being ineffective because I believed in the heavily marketed mainstream skin care products. But now, I care about the ingredients in the product, not the pretty packaging or the name on the packaging. And at the same time, I want products that work and make me feel beautiful!
How do you incorporate your knowledge of Asian holistic beauty and skin care into your line, and in what ways do you think this influences your final products and makes them unique?
FC: My customers in the U.S. are often familiar with Asian beauty and skin care products. From Chinese medicine-inspired regiments to Japanese and Korean skin care, I am deeply inspired by my own Chinese roots and am very lucky to be able to find wonderful beauty ingredients in the U.S. They are natural and a mixture of Chinese and Western cultures. When I look deeper into each individual ingredient, I am like a child in a candy shop, eyes wide open in wonder. I am constantly formulating and creating new products that bring the best from both unique cultures.
Growing up in Hong Kong, my family always taught me to treasure Chinese medicine as a means of keeping the body healthy. Chinese medicine helps support your immune system and keeps your body in harmony and balance. Instead of feeding “toxins” into your body to ease pain or suppress symptoms, it actually helps your body cure itself. When I became a mother, my first child started to develop unusual insomnia when he was 6 months old. He would wake up and cry and had trouble falling back to sleep. It lasted for 2 years and it felt like my whole family was falling apart! I finally took him to a Chinese doctor. One dosage of Chinese herbal tea calmed him and he slept through the night! Since then I trusted Chinese medicine even more and saw a dramatic difference in the health of myself and my family. I always seek help from a Chinese doctor first before I approach any Western medicine.
I combine both Chinese medicine and Asian remedies into my formulas along with latest active ingredients in the market. My formulas are unique, non-toxic, and carefully handcrafted in small batches to ensure the best quality and freshness in each product. They provide maximum results without harsh and harmful ingredients.
How would you describe your beauty philosophy in a few sentences?
FC: Stay away from iced/cold beverages, take good care of your spiritual, mental, and emotional health, and stay on a restricted postnatal diet after child birth (it helps reset your body and improves your physical health and overall quality of life if done correctly), exercise, and use high-quality, natural skin care
What are your biggest goals as a formulator/maker/founder?
FC: I want to show people that they don’t have to settle for the same old products that provide minimal results for absurdly high prices. Helping people achieve good health and a youthful, radiant appearance is my passion — everyone deserves to feel confident and beautiful.
You work with some unique Asian ingredients known for healing such as Gromwell, Cordate Houttuynia, and Plectranthus Amboinicus. Of all the Asian ingredients you incorporate into your line, which do you find most remarkable and why?
I find Artemisia Argyi, the Chinese mugwort, to be the most remarkable. It has a warming effect on the body which is essential for postpartum moms. It helps to get rid of “wind” that is trapped in the body. The pernicious influence of “wind” is considered to cause disharmony in traditional Chinese culture. This herb is also used in moxibustion, a form of healing in which the herb is burned in cones or sticks or on the tip of an acupuncture needle to stimulate circulation. After I gave birth to my children, I was bathed in water that was boiled with Artemisia Argyi to drive away “wind.” I use this herb in a soap that is currently one of the best sellers for postnatal mothers. It is also great for bathing little children and elderly to “keep them healthy.”
What is your process for creating a new product?
FC: I spend so much time doing ingredient research. When I create a product I always think of its benefits first. Let’s say I want to create a facial cream that helps with discolorations. I think of all the ingredients that are known in Asian culture first, then I do further research to see if there are any latest ingredients in Western culture that also provide good results. I also have to think of the different oils that I would like to use for this particular formula, the percent ratio of oils that I want, and other plant-based ingredients/extracts that would be a good fit for the product. I combine these ingredients and create a few samples to see which one works best and is most comfortable on the skin.
Are you self-taught? How did you begin and what have you learned along the way?
FC: Yes, I am self-taught. I began making soaps and salves for customers with problematic skin first and saw great results with them. They came back to tell me that their skin dramatically improved after using my products. Then I started to learn how to make a simple cream for sensitive skin, and customers were coming back for more. I learned that you just have to find something you truly love and are passionate about to make it into your career. It takes time, effort, and energy to create something, so it better be something you love! If you truly enjoy what you are doing, everything will fall into place. You will feel true joy and blessing sharing something of value with your customers.
What is your approach to preservation?
FC: I always use antimicrobials in my water-based products. I choose a combination of Leucidal, Aspen Bark Extract, and Gluconolactone for broad spectrum protection. Leucidal (Lactobacillus Ferment) is a probiotic-based broad spectrum alternative preservative to synthetic preservatives. It is naturally-derived, non-irritating and also conditions your skin. Aspen Bark Extract is a natural preservative that contains Salicin which gives your skin a soothing feeling. The extract also has a conditioning property, making your skin smooth and soft to the touch. It’s a natural and effective preservative that is actually good for your skin! Gluconolactone is considered a next generation AHA. It is a Polyhydroxy acid (PHA) that can be found in its natural state (gluconic acid) in honey and royal jelly, fruit juices, wine, and other fermented products. It is a non-irritating antioxidant and moisturizes your skin. It helps smooth skin texture and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It gently exfoliates and allows other ingredients to absorb better into the skin.
For all-oil products, I use Rosemary Extract or Elderberry Extract. However, in some of my all-oil products, I decided to not add any preservatives if they are for customers with problematic skin.
If you had to pick a favorite product or two from your line of which you are most proud, what would it (they) be, and why?
FC: Definitely the Super Multiplex Peptide Serum! It took me quite a while to formulate this serum. It firms, lifts, reduces wrinkles, repairs, tightens, balances skin tone, and enhances the production of collagen. All you need is just 2-3 drops each time, and it can be applied on the whole face (including the eye areas). You will see the difference right away!
It is also the most luxurious product that I have ever created. It can definitely be called the strongest facial serum in the market! Peptide serums can be very expensive and most peptide serums in the market only contain 1 to 2 kinds of peptides with a maximum of 10% concentration. Savon Mama Super Multiplex Peptide Serum contains 9 different peptides with the total of 22.5% concentration! Other serums contain mostly water or fillers, but my “other ingredients” are organic hydrosols, plant extracts, vitamins, organic essential oils, organic Evening Primrose oil, Aspen Bark extract, and many more natural, effective ingredients. It contains zero water and only contains the best ingredients. The serum definitely sets the highest standard for luxurious skin care.
Which of your products would you most recommend for someone trying to resolve acne and acne marks?
FC: Definitely the Acne Fighting Powder Facial Mask. It is all-natural with no preservatives and contains French Green Clay, Turmeric, Red Sandalwood Powder, Colloidal Oatmeal and Arrowroot Powder. It effectively controls oil but will not dry out skin, leaving the skin extra soft and decreasing the appearance of acne scars. My oldest son suffers from cystic acne, and this was originally created for him. He uses a few times a week and it has helped dramatically!
Which of your products would you call your most potent anti-agers?
FC: Definitely my Silk Rose Toner and Rose Perilla Seed Renewal Facial Oil. My Silk Rose Toner is formulated with Rose Hydrosol, Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel, Rose Essential Oil, Lavender Extract, Nettle Extract, Rose Extract, Lemongrass Extract, Rosemary Extracts and Silk Amino Acids.
When applied to the skin, silk amino acids are readily absorbed. Aside from its moisture-protecting properties, it also adds some protection from ultraviolet rays and helps prevent wrinkles. As the building blocks of the proteins in our skin, amino acids are essential for maintaining healthy cell function and renewal, as well as the skin’s structure and natural moisturizing factors. Amino acids also have antioxidant properties that help repair free radical damage.
Rose Perilla Seed Renewal Facial Oil penetrates into the skin to revitalize, soothe, moisturize, and tone to revitalize dull, fragile, and tired skin. Antioxidants are key to help fight aging, as they reduce damage to cells that can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. Infused with dried organic rose buds and petals, along with Rose Essential Oil, Savon Mama Rose Perilla Seed Facial oil strengthens, nourishes, and replenishes skin.
How would you describe the experience you want people to have with your products?
FC: I want them to be able to see changes in their skin, health, and overall appearance. One of the best comments that I frequently receive is that when my customers compare my products with a $300 skin cream, they see better results from my products.
What do you see as the greatest success of your line so far and what are your hopes for the future?
FC: I think my greatest success is being able to use my products to share traditional Asian remedies, knowledge, and philosophy with people around the world! I haven’t formally done any marketing or advertising. My customers are mostly from word-of-mouth and referrals. My old customers always come back to re-order, which always makes me happy because I know I’m building a special trust with them. I am so glad that the vast majority of my customers stick to my brand because they truly see the difference my products make in their lives. Another thing that I am very happy about is that I ship a lot of orders out to Hong Kong, my home town. I did not expect that I would actually have a lot of loyal customers from so far away! My products are lucky enough to be used among celebrities and well-known makeup artists. My biggest goal in the near future is to open a store in Hong Kong as my customers requested.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. Please consult with a health professional before use. Always store in a cool, dry location. For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes. Keep out of reach of children.